I had the opportunity to bring a meal to this lovely Momma twice after the birth of her son. I fully enjoyed making the meal and getting to say “Hello!” Though it was to my surprise she gifted me a beautiful knitted dishrag (the same kind I make and the only kind I use) as a Thank You when I arrived with her second meal! That’s a sign of a woman who gives! Andrea gives herself to others constantly, you’ll read that below. It is in giving that we receive, and if that saying is true (and I trust that it is) I received the gift of this woman’s grace when I delivered those meals so long ago.
I continue to receive from Andrea V. as I read through what she shares below. I love how this project allows moms of families, no matter the size or years of experience, to learn from one another. We’re ALL in this together.
So, without further ado…
Meet Andrea V.
Share anything you believe is pertinent from your backstory that will sort of describe who you are as an individual.
I grew up on an Iowa farm in a small community but with a big extended family. Farming taught me how God truly provides everything, from the rain and sun to all life. My community and family showed me God’s love in action. During my freshman year of high school, my oldest brother was in an accident the resulted in a brain injury and a long recovery. After the accident, my family was surrounded by support. Family and friends provided meals, helped harvest our crops, visited us in the hospital, and donated to help with expenses. Through this experience, I sought to better understand my faith and God, who allowed my family to go through this difficult time but also provided so much through it.
In college, I was blessed to be surrounded by friends who helped and encouraged me on my journey of faith. It was when I studied abroad in Paris, France that I went deeper and encountered Jesus on more personal level. Mary, Jesus’ mom, played a major role in me getting to know her Son and the Church. She is a powerful intercessor and there are so many churches named after her throughout Paris. My favorite became the church where Mary appeared to St. Catherine Laboure, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.
After college, I became a FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) missionary and was sent to college campuses to help others on their journey of faith. Over the course of 8 years, I became friends with college students on three different campuses and was privileged to grow together in our faith and relationship with Jesus. Being a missionary is beautiful and so humbling. It truly is amazing to see conversions happen and lives change because of Christ. It is also an honor to be present in such a sacred space of people’s lives and humbling to know that conversion isn’t because of you but because of the Holy Spirit.
After being a campus missionary, I transitioned to working with FOCUS alumni and parish missionaries, a new initiative in FOCUS. I met my husband, Kaleb, through a parish missionary and now we are married and have a one year old, Joseph. When Joseph came along, I stopped working for FOCUS and am now a stay-at-home mom.
What are the difficulties of being a stay at home mom? What are the joys?
The beginning was so overwhelming! I tend to be type A and fell into the mindset that there is a perfect way to take care of Joseph. I drove myself crazy trying to find the perfect way to feed him, get him to sleep and help him develop. It was difficult for logic to calm me down at the time, even though typically it helps me from fixating on something.
Now I am able to see that I need to give myself more grace. It isn’t worth my peace to try to do everything perfectly, and it honestly isn’t possible. There are so many ways to be a mom and I am just starting to figure out how.
It brings me so much joy to see Joseph grow. I love to see how Kaleb and Joseph love each other and the joy he brings others when he smiles at them in the store. Also, I love how he looks at me and trusts me so fully. His snuggles are the sweetest and his babble is so joyful.
How would you describe yourself as a person?
I am a daughter of God and strive to live out my faith daily. There is a tension in me of how I think I should live my faith and how I actually do. I am learning to live with my failures, or perceived failures, and just rely on God’s grace and guidance instead of having unrealistic expectations.
I love to bake, craft, read, and encounter beauty in nature. I enjoy hosting and feeding people. I love creating a beautiful and welcoming place for people to rest and rejuvenate. Lastly, I love to be active and go for a hike or play a pickup game of almost any sport.
What is the outcome you wish for your children and how to you attempt to achieve that?
My desire is for my children to know God and to be saints. This is a tall order and, honestly, it can be overwhelming thinking about how my husband and I will help instill the faith in our kids. My plan is to strive for the same goals and in doing so they will see my example and do the same.
What is one piece of advice you’ve received and you always use?
Before our marriage, I heard that love is a choice and it is a decision you have to make daily, and sometimes more frequently. This has been such helpful advice! When I am annoyed or maybe just tired and see an opportunity to love my husband but am tempted not to take it, I try to remember how that is a moment where I can choose to love or not. It helps me be more sacrificial in marriage and not to rely on emotions.
Who do you look up to in your life?
In recent years, and especially now that I am a mother, I have really looked up to the women in my family. My great grandmothers, grandmothers and mom raised families through depressions, wars, and family tragedies and stayed faithful through it all. They even did it without moms groups or Pinterest to turn to for advice! Marriage and parenthood are not easy and you don’t realize the fullness of that reality until you are in it. As a kid, I never looked at life from their perspective and what they must have experienced. I am so grateful for their examples and sacrifices.
What have you learned along the way that others may also benefit from knowing?
- Daily prayer is necessary. It looks different for everyone but in order for us to know God and be open to His will, we need to talk to Him. Prayer helps us to have a docile heart and to really know the person of Jesus.
- “The reasons we lose our peace are always bad reasons.” One of the most impactful spiritual readings for me has been “Searching for and Maintaining Peace” by Fr. Jacque Philippe. It helped me realize how connected peace is with my desire to control and my need to trust God. This is such a good read and I recommend it for everyone!
- Humility. For no good, reason I often feel like I have things figured out, even before I have experienced them. I have been humbled in so many ways; through mission, in relationships and in motherhood. I have learned that the only thing I can control is my actions and everything is from the grace of God.
What do you feel are the hard parts of being a wife and mother?
God gifted me my vocation later than I anticipated. Instead of being married right out of college, He had me wait until I was 33. During the years that I was waiting and praying (and agonizing, begging and crying), it was easy to fall into the mentality that once I was married my life would be complete. My desire to be a wife and mother would finally be realized.
My marriage and son are two of the greatest gifts that God has given me. Since getting married, I realized that the desires that were grown in my heart during my single years don’t go away. Through my missionary years, God grew my heart to be passionate about sharing the Gospel. Now with a schedule that is based on my son’s naps, it is a challenge to figure out how He is asking me to continue to evangelize.
Additionally, before I became a mom I had time to grow in my talents and interests. This was very life giving and I still have the desire to use my talents or do things I am interested in. I am trying to figure out what that means in motherhood. How is God asking me to use these abilities/interests now as a mom?
Tell us three fun or interesting facts about you.
- I was a dairy princess in my county and held the title “Little Miss Squirt” in first grade.
- I enjoy a good anime movie.
- I ran a half marathon once and feel accomplished but also have no desire to do it again.